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Preview: Omaha Opera to present Mozart comedy with an American cinema design

Preview: Omaha Opera to present Mozart comedy with an American cinema design

Opera Omaha’s production of “The Abduction From the Seraglio” is by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the situation comedy is not set in the 1780s era in which the beloved composer wrote it.

That’s so current audiences can enjoy it with references that are immediately accessible, instead of those surrounding the political, social and cultural forces Mozart was responding to, director Alison Moritz said.

Audiences at the Orpheum Theater this weekend will be immersed in a production that’s designed with a nod to films in the 1930s and ’40s, with good guys, bad guys, dramatic rescues and zany hijinks, Moritz writes in program notes.

“At the center of the action, we have a classic love triangle inspired by Rick, Ilsa and Victor Lazlo in ‘Casablanca,’ ” she said.

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In the opera, the Seraglio is a nightclub in which Konstanze, its star attraction, is being held against her will by the owner. Belmonte, who loves her, attempts to rescue her.

In the design from Moritz and her crew, the Seraglio resembles Rick’s Café Américain from the classic film starring Humphrey Bogart as Rick and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa.

Moritz said they also were inspired by a real club that was popular in Berlin from the 1920s to the 1940s. The club, Haus Vaterland, had several themed restaurants, including a Turkish cafe. Mozart’s music for the opera has a Turkish feel to it, with cymbals, big drums, piccolos and triangles.

“Our hope is that we can illuminate parts of this opera from a new perspective while remaining true to the source of it all: Mozart’s joyful, life-affirming music,” she writes.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the theater, 409 S. 16th St. Tickets range from $19 to $99 and are available at operaomaha.org or 402-345-0606.

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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